3 Facts Everyone Should Know about Colon Cancer

Your colon, a major part of the large intestine, stretches 4 to 6 feet long. Your colon can develop small tumors, or polyps — many of which are benign and cause no problem at all. But at least one type is precancerous; left untreated, the polyp can develop into a tumor, and the cancer may spread through the bowel wall to other organs and the bloodstream.

In its early stages, colon cancer presents with few symptoms. That’s why regular screenings are critical. You may have heard of the colonoscopy experience from your friends and really aren’t so sure you want to subject yourself to it. But this minor discomfort can save your life.

1. Colorectal cancer is common

About one in every 20 people in the United States will be diagnosed with colon cancer. Despite the prevalence of the disease, one in three people are not up-to-date with colorectal cancer screenings, meaning colonoscopies. As many as 60% of the expected 51,020 deaths from the disease could be prevented with screening.

The good news is that the likelihood of dying from colon cancer has decreased in the past years because of the emphasis on screening. Gabriel Akopian, MD, can set you up for a colonoscopy and provide any necessary support following. He specializes in the most advanced, minimally invasive surgical techniques used for treating the colon.

2. Family history matters

If someone in your family has had colorectal cancer, you have an increased risk of developing it, too. Approximately 25% of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer have a family history. Your risk is accelerated if your family member was diagnosed before age 45.

It’s recommended you have a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50. If you do have a family (or personal) history, screening may start sooner, and you may need more frequent colonoscopies just to be sure.

You’re also at greater risk if you have a personal history of precancerous polyps, prior to age 60, or a chronic inflammatory condition of the colon, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

3. Some symptoms require immediate attention

While most people with the early stages of colon cancer don’t have symptoms, some do. If you have changes in your bowel movements that can’t be traced to diet or medication, get checked out Dr. Akopian.

Bleeding or cramping in your rectum, long thin stools, belly bloating, and unexplained weight loss are all possible signs you have colon cancer. Even if you’re cancer-free, you benefit from an exam and screening to find out what’s going on.

Colon cancer can be treated successfully when detected early. Dr. Akopian helps residents of the Pasadena, California, area keep tabs on their bowel and colon health. If you have precancerous polyps, he has the skills to remove them safely and effectively so cancer has a very small chance of developing.

Call Gabriel Akopian, MD, or request an appointment using the online tool, especially if you’re due for a colonoscopy or have disturbing symptoms that suggest one is needed pronto. We’re always available to help.

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